CNMN > Projects > Improvisation game : Four!! and Empty Repeating Canvas

Doug Friesen

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  • Ouvert (définition : partitions pour une instrumentation non spécifiée)
  • Voix
  • Instruments acoustiques
  • Instruments rock
  • 5 à 12 ans
  • 13 à 18 ans
  • Adultes
  • Ainés
  • Intergénérationnel

30 minutes

  • Éducation

Improvisation game : Four!! and Empty Repeating Canvas


As part of the Edu­ca­tion Sec­tor Focus, public school music tea­cher Doug Frie­sen shares a few impro­vi­sa­tion games his stu­dents love to play.

GAME 1 : Four!!

After a cue, each par­ti­ci­pant tries to make short sounds, one at a time, when no one else is playing or singing.

Eve­ry time you make a sound, when no one else is, you get a point.

Whe­ne­ver you make a sound at the same time as someone else you must start back at zero.

Once you have col­lec­ted four points you yell “FOUR!!” and the piece is over.

Ears wide open!!

See 2:12 in the video below for ins­truc­tions given by Doug, fol­lo­wed by an example of his stu­dents playing the game.

GAME 2 : Emp­ty Repea­ting Canvas

Put two emp­ty 4/4 mea­sures (or just the num­bers 1 through 8) with a repeat sign up on the board.

Each per­sons picks a sound and a moment in these 8 counts to make it.

Repeat your sound in the same spot each time.

Count it in and let the groove settle.


- Add a hand signal that cues a change of sound and/or placement.
– Add chan­ging dynamics.
– Make sounds « more musi­cal » by deci­ding on a chord or a scale to choose from.
– Extend the num­ber of measures.
– Change the time signature.
– Try adding long notes for part of the group or eve­ry other time through.
- Make sounds less musi­cal by adding a sound­scape theme.
– Decide toge­ther on a nice ope­ning and clo­sing section.

This is hea­vi­ly ins­pi­red by a work­shop with Fred Frith in which he intro­du­ced my stu­dents and I to a com­po­si­tion of his cal­led Screen. It was a pho­to­graph with two emp­ty bars of 5/4 sket­ched on top.

For more games such as these, see the Edu­ca­tion Sec­tor Focus co-direc­ted by Doug Frie­sen and Louise Campbell.

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